A couple of months ago I wrote a very passionate post in the forum about how frustrated and tired I was with things. I talked about all the bad things I have experienced or seen since I have become a houseparent and how it had thoroughly depressed me. I retracted it after a couple of days, because I just didn’t feel it was appropriate for The Houseparent Network and I guess just saying it made me feel better, but now I think it is subject that needs to be addressed, but probably in a much less emotional way.
For those that want to be houseparents I have to warn you. You are probably going to see things you probably never thought about when you said, “Hey, I think I want to be a houseparent.”
My very first day as a houseparent I cared for a young lady that was the very worst case of child neglect and abuse, the county had ever seen. She lived for years in a abandoned camper out in the country, without electricity, water or sewage. Her mother was a drug user and traded her food stamps for drugs causing the young lady to go for days without food. Amazingly, she was not a little kid but was 14 years old. She couldn’t go to a foster home because she didn’t have the ability to function in a normal household. It took almost two very difficult years before she was able to leave and live with another family member, but there were days we really questioned if she would ever make it.
I cared for another child, that while she was in our care, her birth father went down to where her step-mom was signing up her step sister for day camp at a local park and shot the step-mom in front of about 30 kids. She ended up a quadriplegic and he went to prison a for very long time. This young lady struggled for the rest of the time she was with us, about a year, and continues to struggle today.
I have been at homes where a child has committed suicide twice, and have been involved at least 6 other times when birth parents, friends of the children and others have committed suicide. I have known countless birth parents and many of the children that we have cared for that have been to prison or are currently in prison. There are many, many times that I read the local paper and I actually know somebody in the weekly felony arrest report.
I have cared for many children that have horrible physical scars from the abuse they have endured. Scars you can see that help to explain the behaviors that result from the emotional scars you can’t see. I have cared for children that look at their birth parents as heroes and brag about all the crimes that they have helped their parents commit, like a nine year old girl that was proud that she carried her parents drugs, because they knew the cops wouldn’t search the children. Or the children that helped their parents shoplift by distracting the attendants while their parents took liquor or smokes.
I have come to know, out of necessity, more about the various sub-cultures in our society than I ever wanted to know.
Becoming a houseparent means that your are going to be caring for children that come from the darker side of society which means you are going to see a lot of bad things, a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, and a lot of things you wish you never had to see. It takes somebody that is truly a professional, somebody that wants to help children in spite of the challenges. Those that do it for any other reason usually don’t make it very long.